LONDON – Whether Europe should try to contribute to 450-mm wafer technology research and deployment was revealed as a source of tension amongst Europe's leading chip makers at the Industry Strategy Symposium held in Grenoble, France, this week.
A panel made up of representatives from NXP, X-Fab, Lfoundry, STMicroelectronics and Globalfoundries revealed concern over Europe's role in the chip market and the advisability of supporting research on the transition to 450-mm diameter wafers.
Many of the panelists seemed to suggest that spending European tax-payers' money on 450-mm wafer research was not in their interest and risked diminishing support for mixed-signal, RF, MEMS and other CMOS derivatives below critical levels.
Elsewhere at the conference general approval had been shown for the European Commission's new-found interest in advanced manufacturing. This has partly been driven by campaigning by SEMI Europe in 2008 through 2010 and the European Commission has recently commissioned a study on the desirability of 450-mm pilot line in Europe.
Hans-Jurgen Straub, CEO of mixed-signal foundry X-Fab (Erfurt, Germany), set the tone for the panel when he said Europe could not live by services and that somebody has to manufacture something here. "We should do everything we can to keep it [semiconductor manufacturing] in Europe. We all have the same opinion, but then what do we do?"
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